China’s shipbuilding capacity is 232 times greater than that of the United States, according to leaked information from the US Navy.
A leaked US Navy briefing slide with the information circulated online in August, according to The War Zone, an online newsletter. The slide was titled “PLAN vs. USN Naval Force Readiness” and appeared to be marked “unclassified.”
According to the data seen on the slide, Chinese shipyards have a capacity of more than 23.2 million tons, more than 232 times greater than the US capacity of less than 100,000 tons.
The slide also appears to contrast the “battle force composition” of both navies, taking into account “fighting ships, submarines, mine warfare vessels, large amphibious ships, and large auxiliary combat support ships.”
A U.S. Navy spokesperson said in an article published Sept. 14 that the briefing slide is authentic.
The spokesperson explained that the slide “provides context and trends on China’s shipbuilding capability” but cautioned that the Navy did not intend it to be read as a comprehensive “deep dive” into China’s commercial shipbuilding industry. .
“The Office of Naval Intelligence developed the slide from multiple public sources as part of an overall report on strategic competition,” the spokesperson said.
China has been working hard to strengthen its naval capabilities. The country has the largest navy in the world, with more than 355 ships in its fleet, according to a 2021 US Naval Institute report.
The Pentagon’s 2022 annual report on China’s military development further projects that the Chinese fleet will grow to 400 ships by 2025 and 440 ships by 2030.
By comparison, the United States has a smaller fleet of 296 ships, according to a 2021 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
However, the US Navy is still widely considered the most powerful in the world. Then-US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in 2020 that even if the United States stopped building ships, it would take years for China to match the power of the US Navy.
Esper said this was due to the deep technological experience and capabilities of the US Navy.
“Shipping numbers are important, but they don’t tell the whole story,” said Esper, who spoke at a RAND Corporation event in September 2020.